This tea is a throwback: I have actually kept it in reserves since April of this year, for this exact date.
In April, I went to Japan to see Yuzuru Hanyu skate. While I was there, I went down to Kyushu for one specific reason: there is a village there that makes pottery using methods and machinery from the Edo period, which was highly relevant to my research for reasons that are not really disclosed immediately in the book, so I will not disclose.
Some of what I learned appears in my book: what a climbing kiln looks like, how large it is, the practice of making offerings to the kiln.
Onta is a very, very tiny village: think something like ten or eleven houses, plus studios and workshops. The village, to me, is defined by water: the stream that runs through it in a deep gully rushes by, and the Edo period machinery that they use to grind clay into an even dust provides a constant soundscape that is probably one of the most restful noises I have ever heard. The craft of pottery is passed down from father to son (and only one son, for sustainability reasons: the quarry, just above the village, is a limited resource). There is one vending machine, and a little restaurant that would maybe seat 15 in a pinch.
To get to the restaurant, you cross a bridge going over the stream, maybe twenty feet below. You take off your shoes and sit on tatami mats at low tables. You order udon off a hand-written menu on the wall, assuming you can read Japanese handwriting, which--even if you know the underlying Kanji--is harder than it sounds, because handwriting in a foreign language is another beast altogether. I ordered the one thing that was composed entirely of characters I could read.
My udon, which was delicious, came with this tea, which I am pretty sure was a houjicha. It was a rustic tea brewed in a rustic pot. Every so often, the proprietor would brew another pot of tea and come around and refill cups. As exacting as I can be about my tea from time to time, there is something to be said for tea that is made to just be good: to warm you up and hydrate you while you sit in a windowed room, with quince flowers blooming outdoors, listening to the sound of water and water-driven machinery in the background.
IT IS OUT NOW. I REPEAT, I HAVE WRITTEN A BOOK AGAIN, AND YOU CAN READ IT.
I feel like dead parents are the staple of a lot of romance books, and I'm absolutely guilty of this as well. But this is a book where ¾ of the parents involved are alive, and ½ of them are actually decent people.
If I were to tell you the theme of the book that developed as I wrote it, I would say that this book touches on what it means to turn into your parents--both the good and that bad of that.
This book took a stupidly long time to write. I think back to the days when I was producing two books a year and I thought that I was writing “slowly” simply because I knew people writing three or four or five (or, in some cases, twenty) books in a year. Ha.
It is kind of ridiculous to think about the fact that I wrote two books a year while I was also a law professor. I mostly managed this by (a) not sleeping and (b) trying to write any kind of legal scholarship and failing because at that point in my life my brain was trying to chew my own arm off to escape. My work habits did not get better once I quit my other full-time job; I probably went six or seven years without taking a single day off.
At some point, I hit a wall made of my prior habits, and I have had to learn to be reasonable ever since. One of the things I figured out on this final iteration was that the difference between sustainable work habits and unsustainable work habits is not simply “do the same thing, but more slowly.”
So I have been asking myself: why am I doing this? Is there another way? What are my options here? How do I make this work for me? I feel like this book has been, for me, a little bit of a reinvention.
I don't know how any of what I've learned will work out in the long run, but I do know this: this is the first time in many, many years where I've finished a book, and instead of saying to myself “oh no, I'm so exhausted, how can I make myself write the next one,” I feel excited to do so.
So it turns out that I uploaded the wrong versions to a couple of places--the changes were very minor, but do exist. As I was uploading, my laptop screen cracked and I was racing time as the black areas of the screen started to spread, and in my panic, I wasn't careful about which folder I pulled the files from. I have since fixed it. My apologies for the error.
If you don't have it from Amazon yet, if you get it now, you'll get the correct version.
Until next week!
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